Colorado Last Will and Testament

Colorado Last Will and Testament

Last updated August 18th, 2023

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A Colorado last will and testament is a legally-binding document that sets out how a person wants their estate to be distributed when they die. A person’s estate includes any real estate, financial investments and accounts, insurance policies, personal property, and business interests they have. Through a will, individuals can determine how their estate will be distributed, who will oversee the estate’s distribution, who their beneficiaries will be, and name a guardian for their minor children. If a will isn’t made, state law will determine how the person’s estate is divided.

Any individual 18 or more years old who is of sound mind may make a will.[1]

Probate Process in Colorado (8 steps)

In Colorado, the probate of a will must begin before three years have passed from the date of the decedent’s death. The process will take a minimum of six months to complete.[5]

  1. Prepare Required Forms
  2. File Petition or Application with District Court
  3. Appointment of Representative
  4. Notices and Publication
  5. Estate Inventory
  6. Settling Claims
  7. Closing the Estate
  8. Final Hearing (Formal Probate Only)

1.  Prepare Required Forms

If the decedent’s estate is valued at $80,000 or less, the estate may be eligible to bypass probate.[6] To qualify, there must also be no granted or pending appointment of a personal representative for the will’s probate.

A successor must complete the Collection of Personal Property by Affidavit at least 10 days after the decedent’s death, have it notarized, and attach a copy of the decedent’s death certificate before using the affidavit to collect the decedent’s property.


Before beginning the probate of a will, the successors must determine whether it will be an informal or formal probate and complete the required forms.[7]

Informal Probate of Will

If the will is uncontested, the successor can apply for an informal probate which is a simpler and less lengthy process than the formal option. Using this option, there will be no court hearing or published notice.

The following documents will need to be prepared for filing:

  • JDF 910 – Application for Informal Probate of Will
    • Completed and signed by a successor.
  • JDF 912Nomination of Personal Representative
    • For any heir who has priority of appointment.
  • JDF 911 – Acceptance of Appointment
    • Completed by the personal representative.
  • JDF 721 Irrevocable Power of Attorney
    • Only required if the personal representative lives out of state.
  • JDF 915 – Letters Testamentary/of Administration
    • Caption only; the rest of the form will be completed by the court.
  • JDF 913 – Order for Informal Probate of Will
    • Prepare for court signature.

Formal Probate of Will

Formal probate is necessary if there are disagreements regarding the distribution of the decedent’s estate or if the original will can’t be located and only a copy is available.[8]

A successor must have the forms listed below prepared before beginning formal probate.

  • JDF 920 – Petition for Formal Probate of Will
    • Completed and signed by a successor.
  • JDF 912Nomination of Personal Representative
    • For any heir who has priority of appointment.
  • JDF 911 – Acceptance of Appointment
    • Completed by the personal representative.
  • JDF 721 Irrevocable Power of Attorney
    • Only required if the personal representative lives out of state.
  • JDF 915 – Letters Testamentary/of Administration
    • Caption only; the court will complete the rest of the form.
  • JDF 711Notice of Hearing
    • Caption only; the rest of the form will be completed by the court and (if applicable) server.
  • JDF 921 – Order Admitting Will to Formal Probate
    • Prepare for court signature.

2. File Petition or Application with District Court

The petition or application must be filed with the original will and other required forms in the district court for the county where the decedent resided (Denver Probate Court if a Denver resident).

Filing Fees

A filing fee of $199 must be paid to file a petition or application. This fee may be waived by completing and filing the Motion to File Without Payment.

Additional fees will be required for the certification and copies of any necessary documents.

3. Appointment of Representative

The personal representative is the person who is appointed to administer the estate. Their responsibilities include the following:

  • Collecting, valuing, and inventorying assets
  • Paying claims and taxes
  • Distributing the estate

Informal Probate

The court will appoint the personal representative and give them Letters Testamentary upon approval of an application.

Formal Probate

The court will set an initial hearing date for the personal representative’s appointment and the probate’s opening. The court will determine whether an appearance hearing is required depending on the circumstances.

The appropriate notice form must be completed by the personal representative and delivered with with copies of all other filed documents to all interested parties listed in paragraph 9 of the petition:

  • JDF 711Notice of Hearing
  • JDF 712Notice of Hearing Without Appearance

If everything is in order, the court will give the personal representative Letters Testamentary and execute the Order Admitting Will to Formal Probate on the hearing date.

4. Notices & Publication

Within 30 days of receiving Letters Testamentary, the personal representative must notify all interested parties of their appointment.[9] The Information of Appointment form must be completed and delivered to the interested parties by mail or in person to complete this requirement.

  • JDF 940 Information of Appointment

After the notices have been delivered, the personal representative will need to complete the Certificate of Service section and file the form.

Notice to Creditors

Unless one year has passed since the decedent’s death, the personal representative must give notice of probate to any known creditors using the below forms.

  • JDF 943Notice to Creditors by Publication
    • The personal representative must arrange the publication of this notice in a local newspaper for three consecutive weeks.
  • JDF 944Notice to Creditors by Mail or Delivery
    • This notice must be delivered to any known creditors.

The personal representative is required to file Proof of Publication and a Certificate of Service to show they have fulfilled these requirements.

5. Estate Inventory

The personal representative will be given three months from their appointment to take inventory of all of the decedent’s money and property using the below form.[10]

  • JDF 941Decedent’s Estate Inventory 

The inventory form doesn’t need to be filed with the court. However, it must be provided to interested parties upon request.

6. Settling Claims

The personal representative is responsible for paying any valid claims and debts using estate funds before the remaining assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries.[11]

These debts commonly include:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Final medical expenses
  • Credit card balances
  • Federal taxes and state income taxes

7. Closing the Estate

After completing the above steps, the personal representative can close and distribute the estate.

Informal Probate

To close an informal probate, the personal representative will need to distribute the estate to its beneficiaries as required by the will and state law before preparing the following forms:[12]

  • JDF 965Statement of Personal Representative Closing Administration
  • JDF 942Final Accounting

Copies of both forms will need to be served on anyone who has an interest in the estate. After delivery, the Statement of Personal Representative Closing Administration must be filed with the court with the Certificate of Service completed. The estate will be officially closed one year after the statement has been filed.

Formal Probate

Before closing formal probate, the personal representative must complete the below forms.[13]

  • JDF 960Petition for Final Settlement
  • JDF 942Final Accounting
  • JDF 964Order for Final Settlement
  • JDF 730Decree of Final Discharge

Copies of the Petition for Final Settlement and Final Accounting forms must be delivered to all interested parties. A copy of both forms will need to be filed with the court with a Certificate of Service after delivery has been completed. The Order for Final Settlement and Decree of Final Discharge must also be filed.

8. Final Hearing (Formal Probate Only)

The court will set a hearing date for the case. If a non-appearance hearing is set, the date is a formality and no one will need to appear in court.

The appropriate notice must be completed and served on all interested parties at least 14 days before the hearing:

  • JDF 711Notice of Hearing 
  • JDF 963Notice of Non-Appearance Hearing on Petition for Final Settlement

After delivering the proper notice, a copy must be filed with a completed Certificate of Service.

If everything is in order, the court will execute the Order for Final Settlement after the hearing. The estate can then be distributed as relayed in the Petition for Final Settlement.

After the estate has been distributed, the beneficiaries will each need to fill out this form and return it to the personal representative:

The personal representative will then need to file all of the Receipt and Release forms with the court. Once all forms have been filed, the court will sign the Decree of Final Discharge to relieve the personal representative of their duties and officially end probate.

Sources

  1. § 15-11-501
  2. § 15-11-502(2)
  3. § 15-11-507
  4. § 15-11-502
  5. § 15-12-108
  6. §§ 15-12-1201, 15-11-403, Colorado DOR
  7. JDF 906
  8. Colorado Judicial Branch
  9. § 15-12-705
  10. § 15-12-706
  11. § 15-12-807
  12. JDF 959
  13. JDF 957